Bicycling: Is it a law now that one *has* to wear a helmet?

Forgive me, but I come from a state that has it’s retarded moments (New Jersey).

I just finished reading an online article advertising a bicycle tour of my county. “Riders must bring their own helmets.”

Is it now a legal requirement to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in New Jersey? What about other states? I can’t imagine a state like Arizona, where you aren’t required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle forcing you to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

Clue me in here, please. . .

Pretty soon, you’ll have to wear a helmet to walk outside the house. :rolleyes:

If it’s an organized ride, even if it is volunteer led and no money exchanges hands, it’s probably covered by someone’s insurance. For the club that I lead trips for (AMC) everyone on the trip must wear a helmet or you can’t ride with the group. It’s all about insurance.

Are you under 14?

It’s been law in this part of the world (Australia, New Zealand) for about ten years now. Most people don’t seem to mind so much and it’s quite effective in reducing head injury in accidents.

The way people bike in my town, I’m glad that helmet-wearing is mandatory. We have a pedestrians-always-have-the-right-of-way rule on our university campus, but people seem to extend this to bikes. I’ve nearly hit a few who zoomed in front of me from tree-sheltered paths that intersect the roads in the middle of blocks.


It certainly doesn’t worry me at all. I wouldn’t dream of getting onto one without a helmet. I can’t imagine why anyone would be silly enough not to wear one.

      • Organized rides (all over the US) usually require them, as noted. I wear one while I am riding on-road, but not if I am riding on extended bicycle paths. I take it off and fasten it over the seat-back. …The main risk of riding on-road is getting hit by a car, so if you’re on a bike path (where there’s no cars around), then the main reason is gone. And it does feel nicer riding without one.

I can’t think of a state with a helmet law, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one got passed.
I used to be on a municipal bicycling advisory commitee.
Fun facts:
Your odds of dying go down in a bike accident go down by 80% if you have a helmet on.
Your odds of serious brain damage go down by 85% if you have a helmet.

Here’s a weird statistic one of the guys on the advisory commitee came up with:
If a helmet law reduces ridership by 5%, the public health benefits of the decreased mortality due to helmets are precisely balanced out by the increased cardiovascular mortality due to 5% of the population not getting the exercise they would otherwise have been getting.
I don’t know about that last statistic, but I read his miniature thesis on the subject, and it LOOKED up to snuff. Of course it also assumed people would not take up swimming, basketball or jogging instead as substitutes.

While I’ve got you here…

Why to bicycle helmets like like the Alien creature rather than motorcyle helmets?

Simple reason, Weight and cooling.
Every gram counts when you are powering up a hill using what God gave you instead of what you bought from Harley Davidson. Not using gas to power up the hill causes you to overheat and sweat. You need ventalation to get rid of that heat.

Ventilation. Bicycle helmets need big vent holes to cool down the rider’s head and get rid of moisture (sweat).

a question little off the subject, but do people on bikes have to ride on the sidewalk when there is a sidewalk present. For instance, the other day when I was driving home a man on a bike was driving at the side of the road. Normally I don’t have a problem with this, but there was a perfectly good sidewalk to use, not to mention the fact that he was about 12-24 inches inside the lane. Is this legal? Thanks.

(spelling corrected)

      • They have lots of vents because they need to be cool to wear, thermally-speaking. You can find downhill helmets that look very similar to what off-road motorcyclers wear, but the bicycle helmets are still built much lighter overall than motorcycle helmets. You can also find DEVO-esque teardrop helmets that have no vents as well and are really only intended for absolute minimum drag during velodrome racing.
  • Charmingly enough, they are now considered “disposeable”, in that if you suffer a strike hard enough to visibly damage the helmet, you’re supposed to toss it and go buy a new one. They are made very light to avoid causing neck fatigue when worn in the hunched-over position an upright bike puts you in.

  • It’s not just legal, in most places in the US, it’s the law. Bicycles are supposed to share the roadway, and some locales even have laws specifically banning their use on sidewalks. Sidewalks are for pedestrians.

In Massachusetts, helmets are required on bikes for riders 16 years or younger.


I think they’ve always been designed that way. The styrofoam absorbs impact by breaking and crushing, much like the crumple zone of a car.

FWIW, I grew up riding a bicycle without a helmet. Based on the crashes I had, I’d say it would make more sense to require cups! :eek:

Yes, we are required by law to use the road with cars & trucks. It’s actually much safer, as drivers pull out over the sidewalk without looking for bicycles. Admit it, you’re not expecting something moving 15 mph on a sidewalk, are you?

Please don’t ride past and shout at bicycle riders to use the sidewalk. It’s rude, not to mention dangerous to startle someone balancing on 2 narrow tires.

Charmingly enough all helmets are considered disposeable. Motorcycle, auto racing any of them, if you get into an accident, it needs to be inspected / replaced by the helmet maker. Here is what Simpson Safety says about helmets that have been hit.

As far as where a bike should ride, in California a bike as a vehicle just like a car. Cars are not allowed on sidewalks, neither are bikes. Some local exceptions do exist however. Some sidewalks in Pleasanton for example have signs “Bikes may ride on sidewalk”.

I almost forgot, Bell helmets will replace a damaged helmet for a reduced rate details are here . (PDF!)
Replacing a $100 dollar helmet for $35. seems like a good deal to me.